Vang Vieng, Laos

The press says that Vang Vieng has shaken off its ‘party town’ reputation & is attracting more discerning visitors.  For me, its not there yet & on our visit, the town is sadly still packed with backpackers trying to revive the old party scene.
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One of the riverside bars which screen 'Friends' & 'Family Guy' all day & night

In the past, its hedonistic reputation teamed with 27 tourist deaths in 2011 (see Guardian article) meant that bars now have a midnight curfew. However, there are still many ‘after hours parties’ on offer & Western touts giving out leaflets for free drinks & whisky buckets.

I was expecting a town like Nong Khiaw, but with a more established infrastructure. Sure the scenery is beautiful (but there is better in Laos). There are signs that the town is trying to balance things with a few boutique guesthouses & a couple of restaurants & a patisserie.
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The bamboo bridge is washed away each year in the wet season

The infamous tubing is still big here, but there are other activities such as caving, kayaking & even ballooning!
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I hope Vang Vieng can move forward & cast off its media history to become the town it wants to be.
However for me, I loved Nong Khiaw, which is still a Laos village, (with more amazing scenery) small guesthouses & outdoor activities that are focused on the activity & not drinking. I hope that it never becomes another Vang Vieng.

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